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Private company to invest $30 million in USVI horseracing industry

USVI Governor Kenneth E. Mapp announced details of a landmark deal to have two first class horse racetracks in the USVI. Photo: Internet Source

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St Thomas, USVI - The US Virgin Islands (USVI) will soon be home to two first class horse racetracks thanks to an unprecedented agreement with a private company that will invest more than $30 million in the expansion and modernisation of local horse racing facilities.

In keeping with the administration’s commitment to sports tourism and economic revitalization, Governor Kenneth E. Mapp announced details of the landmark deal during a Thursday morning (October 27, 2016) press conference at Government House on St Thomas. The new facilities and substantial purses are expected to attract racing enthusiasts and horse owners from around the world.

The agreement calls for VIGL Operations LLC to take over the management of both the Clinton E. Phipps racetrack on St Thomas and the Randall “Doc” James racetrack on St Croix. VIGL will partner with the government to transform the local horse racing industry and bring new revenue streams and jobs to the territory. VIGL currently operates the renovated Caravelle Hotel & Casino in Christiansted and, as such, has already been vetted and licensed by the Casino Control Commission. Its parent company, B & B Amusements, designs and operates entertainment venues in Illinois and Louisiana.

“Today I present to the people of the Virgin Islands a comprehensive package of agreements and related documents between the Government and VIGL Operations, LLC, an experienced manager of horserace tracks and gaming facilities, for the revitalization and operation of the horserace tracks on both St Thomas and St Croix,” the governor said. “I also present legislation amending the Virgin Islands Horse Racing Industry Assistance Act of 2010 that will help to modernise our horseracing industry – making it a source of pride and economic value to the people and the government.” 

Mapp sent correspondence to the Legislature on Thursday calling the body into special session on November 28, 2016, in order to ratify the franchise agreement and update the laws now governing local horseracing. He said the newly proposed regulations will be in line with other “great horseracing jurisdictions” in the states.

The contract, which calls for state of the art facilities to be developed on both islands, includes very specific execution timelines and the posting of a $25 million performance bond. If VIGL does not meet the required terms the government retains the right to terminate or revoke the 20-year concession agreement, the governor said. Terms of the deal include:

• The refurbishment and expansion of the territory’s two racetracks.

• Construction of bars, restaurants, lounges, restrooms, viewing stands, parking, jockey locker rooms and vendor kiosks.

• New barns, quarantine areas and veterinary care facilities for horses.

• A minimum of 18 live race days annually on both St Thomas and St Croix in the first three years and a minimum of 24 each year thereafter.

• Minimum purse sizes of $100,000 per race day with much bigger purses guaranteed for the annual Carnival and Festival horseraces.

• Training and scholarships related to horse racing of up to $100,000 annually.

• Establishment of a new nine-member Horse Racing Commission to oversee operations in both districts.

“The end result will be two new racetracks,” the governor said. “Numerous new jobs will be created in both the construction and operations phase and we anticipate substantial new revenue streams.”

Mapp said that, under the terms of the deal, VIGL will make a $30 million capital investment at both tracks, including the purchase of 12.5 additional acres of land on St Thomas in order to expand the Clinton E. Phipps facility. More than 40 percent of the redevelopment must be finished within two years and the projects must be “substantially completed” within 42 months. As part of the agreement, VIGL will be allowed to operate “racinos” with a limited number of gaming machines at each site.

The governor said VIGL will not be eligible for tax benefits. In fact, the business will be required to pay higher taxes on its gaming revenues than the standard taxes now paid by casino operators. VIGL will also be subjected to annual license fees, franchise taxes and rent payments of $108,000 annually on St Croix and $24,000 annually on St Thomas – a lower rate as a result of the land purchase. 

“Horseracing has a long history in the territory, but has fallen on hard times here and elsewhere,” the governor said. “The agreement we have reached with VIGL, and the legislation that will accompany it, will bring a substantial infusion of investment into the territory, a fresh source of government revenues, and the rebirth of the Virgin Islands’ storied horse racing industry.”

9 Responses to “Private company to invest $30 million in USVI horseracing industry”

  • just asking.. (30/10/2016, 15:47) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Where is the money for bvi horse race?
  • solution (30/10/2016, 17:58) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Pass the gambling laws with some urgency and then pass on the track (ellis thomas downs) to these guys so that they can run the 3 tracks at the same time. This will be better for inter island sports as there will be no conflicting schedules.
  • Eagle Eye (31/10/2016, 02:38) Like (9) Dislike (4) Reply
    First thing let go letty so she can make her contributions to match does two usvi horse tracks and horses that is soon a reality.second thing lets upgrade first before they forget us lol
  • See (31/10/2016, 14:56) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    Sure .... expand the USVI horse game where drugged horses have their lives risked by the money laundering sydicates . Nice sport .
  • Amen (02/11/2016, 18:13) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    as a result, the death toll will rise. jealousy and envy reigns around that place.
  • Worldlove (10/11/2016, 18:38) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Shame on Virgine islands bringing horses there I was there this week ran into a gentleman who owned a horse tied up to a tree with no water no food one block from the race track I have pictures and everything!!!

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